Almost three years after a laser beam was pointed at police in East End, Javonnie Jamal Silburn was sentenced to seven months imprisonment for causing harassment, alarm or distress.
The incident occurred in April 2015, when he was 18, and it involved the police helicopter responding to concerns that the laser could have been attached to a weapon.
Mr. Silburn had admitted shining the laser at the helicopter once, but the Crown did not accept his guilty plea on that basis. During his trial his statement was read indicating that the laser had belonged to someone else and he was caught holding it after the owner left the scene.
Magistrate Grace Donalds rejected that explanation and accepted the evidence of police officers that he did it “no less than three times.” The officers explained how they were able to keep the person with the laser in their sight and communicate his description to officers on the ground.
The trial had to be adjourned over several weeks because some of the officers involved were seconded to a mission in Turks and Caicos to assist with hurricane relief. He was found guilty in October 2017.
Sentencing was to take place in January, with a social inquiry report and psychological assessment to be done beforehand. On March 2, there was a report but no assessment. The magistrate said it would have been ideal to have it, but Mr. Silburn had been in custody for some time.
Defense attorney Neil Kumar agreed and said Mr. Silburn was happy to proceed without it. He had been in custody since July and Mr. Kumar pointed out that the seven months already served was the length of time that would have made him eligible to apply for release if he had been sentenced to one-year imprisonment.
The magistrate agreed and sentenced him to seven months, with credit for time served. The result was that he could be released.
The maximum sentence for causing harassment, alarm or distress is three years, unless the offense occurs at night, in which case the maximum is four years.
By way of mitigation, Mr. Kumar had referred to the social inquiry report and its summary of Mr. Silburn’s difficult upbringing and challenging obstacles. When interviewed, he had acknowledged his behavioral issues, which were not helped by his use of ganja. Since being in prison, he had focused on his rehabilitation and had met with a counselor regularly. “He is motivated,” Mr. Kumar told the court.
He suggested a suspended sentence supervision order, which would provide guidance regarding anger and substance abuse issues.
Mr. Silburn, now 21, had other charges, to which he had previously pleaded guilty. One set related to an incident in July 2014, when a police officer on parol observed him in the vicinity of Pirates Cove Bar in East End. He was riding a motorcycle at a dangerous speed and doing “wheelies.” He was not wearing a helmet and had no lights illuminated.
Other offenses, summed up by Crown counsel Gavin Dixon, included taking a cellphone from someone he knew and smashing it against a wall after an argument. Other cases, including assault, threats to kill, carrying an offensive weapon and causing fear or provocation of violence, all involved complainants with whom he was acquainted.
For all of these the magistrate sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years. Conditions include completing an anger management program and a personal relationship enhancement program. He is prohibited from consuming illegal substances and must submit to random drug tests.
For the motorcycle incident, he was disqualified from driving for 12 months.
The magistrate asked about compensation for the damage to property charges. Mr. Kumar said the defendant had no means and would not be able to satisfy any order.
No order was made, but it was later pointed out that a complainant could take a claim to a civil court.